Donald Trump has had a more public role in Washington’s political debate of late than ever. So it’s no coincidence that one day after his big CNN debate win, which gave him some of the highest approval ratings of his presidency, he managed to derail an increasingly perilous effort by his GOP colleagues to move a bill advancing his self-interested priorities.
“One thing is sure,” Trump said on Monday. “The Democrats are not the party of JFK, they’re not the party of Reagan, and they are certainly not the party of Abraham Lincoln.” It was an implicit indictment of his rivals from both parties, most notably the Republican’s own vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence, who had been at the forefront of the effort to bring the Bill (and health care like it) to America.
Trump also took a victory lap in his CBS interview on Tuesday night. If the result of his success in the CNN debate was allowing him to come back at the elite of the Republican Party that had so resoundingly rejected him in the primaries, his victory at the Super Tuesday debate was a reward for tenaciousness in the face of intense attacks.
There is little doubt that Trump’s victory on Monday has elevated his stature in Washington and accelerated his domination of the rest of the country. As he has embarked on an alliance with the radical Republicans in Congress — Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz among them — what comes out of that is going to be a profound test for a nation that is continuing to divide itself. And the violence that protesters are striking in parts of the country is sending a clear message to Democrats that they will have to deal with a far more aggressive version of their general election opponent.
Losing power is a human experience. Mr. Trump’s victory has been as unsettling for his adversaries as his victory has been for his backers.